August 23, 2016
Our second destination was Mackinac Island. While Joel’s brother had lived in Traverse City, MI, we always drove non-stop through the upper peninsula of Michigan, crossed the Mackinac Bridge and finished up twelve hours later at his home in one day. While we passed by, I always wished we would one day stop on the North shore of Lake Michigan and also see that famous island. I was always so eager to see horse drawn carriages, and to experience that culture.
This was my chance.
After spending a few days in the Porcupine Mountains, we headed eastbound making a quick stop to see the sandy green-blue waters of Lake Michigan on our way to St. Ignace. We stayed for three days at a little place called Tiki RV Resort. This had our full hookups, but nothing extra for the kids. That was fine, as we didn’t stop there for the resort time anyway.
Next morning, we were able to get a shuttle ride to the boat ferry that took us to Mackinac Island. I was thankful we thought ahead to ride the one with the most departures, since we had no clue as to how long we would stay on the island.
For those who don’t know, Mackinac Island’s main modes of transportation are bicycle and horse carriages. This came about because when automobiles first appeared on the island, they startled the horses. This started affecting the long existing tourist industry there; so officials quickly banned them.
Fortunately, you don’t smell those beautiful pictures in magazines. Once we were off the ferry, we wove our way through the mass of congestion to make it out to the main street. A strong urine/horse stench permeated the air throughout the entire downtown area. I reminded the boys to stay off the street and to watch where they step. I was excited to sample true Mackinac Island fudge, but, wonder if some people lose their appetite before they walk into the shops. Being a chocolate lover, I overcame the smell and picked out a few flavors. Going forward, I will have a different image in my mind on all those old western movies of what life was like back then.
We spend a good portion of the day walking around the historic sites on the island, starting with the fort. Costumed people brought to life different aspects of life in the fort in the early 1800’s. The buildings were still standing, however, inside they created a true museum out of the structures. While it gave great background information as to the events that occurred there, it began to feel like more of a typical museum rather than a living history destination.
Later on at a blacksmith’s shop on the island, I asked the worker how he got started in metalworking. He told us about ABANA, an association for blacksmiths. I was excited to find out that Minnesota has one of the best groups around to learn the trade. They even wrote the curriculum that other groups follow to train future blacksmiths. My oldest has a curiosity in this field, so this information may prove to be beneficial in his future. We’ll see.
Because ferrying the bike over as well as renting bicycles on the island proved to be quite an expenditure for a family of four, we opted to walk around instead. We saw some beautiful forest trails, arch rock, and that carribean-like waterfront. We crisscrossed through the whole downtown area as well. According to Joel’s phone pedometer, we ended up walking over eight miles that day. I felt like a smart mommy, as I previously packed a lunch and snacks for the crew. We were able to take our time and enjoy the colorful flower gardens and sit in the shade at different spots along the way. I do admit traveling with a family of boys loses that romantic appeal. They were more interested in the rifles, cannon firing, and splashes the ferry makes along the way than the victorian houses, flower gardens, and fancy dining places. Knowing we were “running out of steps” and were content in what we accomplished, we decided to call it a day by suppertime.
One big difference in traveling full-time and just vacationing is life has to keep going. I announced that night, “Boys, we’ll start school tomorrow, because I know we’ll be taking extra time off for field trips.”
We stayed at the resort another day and started schooling the boys. I figured there were minimal distractions to start with and would feel good to rest for a day at the trailer. I allowed the kids to sleep in and have a leisure start to the school year. We had to cross a few hurdles in schooling the boys. The main obstacle has been in obtaining literature books as part of their curriculum. We could always just purchase the books, but in a trailer, space and weight are both premium. I ideally would have liked library e-books. I have found some free e-books, though none have come from MNLink, or WorldCat.
Besides a good source for classical e-books, another hurdle for my oldest was in math and science. Studying physics this year, he needed to have some basic knowledge of trigonometry. I have the curriculum. However, if he completed the math course in sequence, he wouldn’t get to that until the end of next year. So, to save space, I left that section at our storage base to pick up later. Fortunately, last year I stumbled upon Khan Academy looking for a method to teach matrices. This free online tutorial included practice problems on various topics and found it very useful. These wrinkles should be ironed out for now, I hope.
In the middle of the night, I was awaken to the sound of rain and massive gusts of wind. It buffeted the trailer sharply but not to the point of alerting the family to get to shelter. I thought about the next day. We were going to cross the five mile Mackinac Bridge with the Blue Ridge fifth wheel. I prayed, “God, would you allow the wind to calm down enough by morning so we will be able to cross?” I know from years past, if the wind was too strong, they would close off the bridge and make traffic wait until conditions became favorable again for crossing. I really didn’t want to be waiting for hours on end.
Fortunately, the bridge remained open and we crossed with no issues. I am thankful for having that set of duallies on the truck. Though Joel felt the pushing of the wind the rig was stable as we kept to the speed limit of 20mph.
We decided to stop for the next couple of nights at Timber Ridge Resort on the outskirts of Traverse City, MI. Traverse City was the largest city nearby for obtaining the supplies we obviously needed. A couple days earlier, my youngest showed me the rubber portion coming off his shoe. As I went to glue it, my hand inside his shoe felt the rubber that I was gluing back onto it. Yikes! No cushion was left at all. If the rubber broke off, he would have been literally walking miles with his toes on the pavement. Fortunately, his foot is about my size, so I spotted him a pair of my shoes until we were able to get to a store again. Also, we got flat tires on two of our bicycles. We are guessing there must have been sharp edges on the bike trailer that came with the RV. With the bouncing of the back roads, it proved to be a bit too much. Hopefully with some modification as well as new tires and tubes, that will be in the past.
Timber Ridge Resort is a family-friendly resort nestled back in the woods. It has a heated pool, foosball, volleyball, basketball and dodgeball courts, planned family activities, and tons of mountain biking trails. This place has full hook-ups, WIFI and cable. I can see family groups meeting here because people can also rent cute cabins and cottages as well.
Until we meet again,